William Henry Irby was born on November 6, 1819, in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, to Thomas W. Irby and Ona Oney E. Thurman. William was one of 11 children born to the couple. Raised on a farm, he married Phoebe Ellen Hubbard, the daughter of the Reverend Joel Hubbard, in 1858. They settled on a farm in Pittsylvania County.
While the 1567 edition of the Carta Marina does not have the number and variety of sea monsters as the earlier editions, it does show several sea monsters off the west coast of Scandinavia and in the waters around Iceland.
The Carta Marina depicts the geography of Northern Europe, the British Isles and Iceland. More importantly, it is populated with figures from Scandinavian history and folklore, and with animals both real and imagined.